Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Window Crayons - Kind of Genius, Actually

These were in the J-bird's Easter basket on Sunday. They're basically just grease crayons that clean off with Windex (or whatever a person might use to clean the window).

He has already filled up the slider. Twice.

They're so fun, we're using them for learning too, since I haven't put in a blackboard for fear of the chalky mess.

They're also a good distraction from the fact that our bathroom re-model-which-is-taking-forever is making us all sick (demo, hardi-board dust, mortar dust, tile dust from the constantly running tile saw). Both kids have had runny noses since the demo on the old shower began (weeks ago) and are now coughing, and I have the most painful sinus infection I have ever experienced in my life. James is ok so far, because he's not here during the day, when the work is going on. I'm VERY glad that one of us feeling alright. Especially because last night, he went downstairs while I sat on the floor of the TV room in a miserable stupor and he cleaned the kitchen, picked up all the toys and prepped the coffee maker for the morning for me. His help and understanding aside, I am so stinking ready for this construction to be DONE.

There are a few lessons to be learned here. #1 - My husband is awesome. #2 - When a contractor looks you straight in the eye and says "Oh sure, Ma'am! We'll have it all done before your baby's birthday party! It'll be 9 working days, start to finish!", what he means is, "This will take at least a month! There's not a chance we'll be out of here before that party! In fact, for the week following, we won't show up OR call, leaving you with a giant hole in your bathroom where your shower used to be and no idea if we're ever coming back! Just to show you who's boss! And after that, we'll take however long we darn well please to finish, because there's nothing you can do about it once we have your money! Mwahahahahaha!"

Or something like that. I may be paraphrasing a tiny bit.

Oh, and #3 - Window crayons are also awesome.

The end.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Happy Easter!

Alright kiddos, we're going to try for some Easter photos this evening, so we're not crunched for time tomorrow morning. OK? I just need you both to look at me and smile.
OK. Should have been more clear - look at me and smile at the same time. Let's try again.

Um, no. Please don't eat the clover, baby girl.

And let's go ahead and skip the traditional Easter headlock.

Seriously? Wow. Not even close.

Alright! That's getting a little better! That's cute!

There you go. Good enough! Happy Easter!!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

"I Don't LOVE You Anymore!"

Now that Miss V is mobile, she can and does get into the J-bird's stuff, and this is deeply distressing to my son, who, like his father, has an almost compulsive need for his things to be just so, even if "just so" happens to be a giant mess all over the floor. The J-bird absolutely adores his sister, but even so....she's moving his cars. She's messing up his toy train tracks. She's sticking his puzzle pieces in her mouth. So his hands (or feet, or whatever) act before his training can catch up, and little Miss V gets knocked down, her hard-won treasure snatched from her hands, and the J-bird looks as startled as she does when he gets in trouble. As the oldest of five children, I have plenty of empathy for the plight of the child whose younger siblings constantly get into his belongings, but knocking your sister over will


The other evening, after having been warned a couple of times for pushing Miss V away with his foot and then his hands (not hard, but still), he knocked her down again, to keep her away from something he wanted. She didn't even cry, but that was it, as far as I was concerned, and I informed him that he was going to bed. Like NOW. He has no real concept of time, so even though it was only 40 minutes early, to him, it was the end of the world. I led him upstairs and handed Miss V off to James. The J-bird became increasingly distraught as I led him through his bedtime routine of potty, handwashing, teeth brushing, and pajama donning. When he realized I really meant business, and that he really was going to bed, the freak-out got serious. And then, between bellows, he said it:


And even though I knew he didn't mean it, my heart trembled. No mother ever wants to hear this, though I'd wager a large number of mothers with small children (or teenagers) do hear it a time or two. My mind reeled for a second - where did he get that? Where am I going wrong? Etc...etc...etc.... Then I very calmly told him that it was time for bed, took him into his room, kissed him goodnight, turned off his lamp and exited the room. Later, when Miss V had been tucked into her crib, I heard the J-bird talking quietly in his room, so I went back in and sat on the edge of his bed. He said in a quiet voice, "Mommy, I do love you." I cuddled him and told him that I was glad he'd said so. I said that I know it's tempting to say mean, hurtful things when a person is angry or frustrated, but that it's important to try your hardest to remember, even in that moment, that the person you are saying those things to will be sad and hurt by what you've said. I also told him that no matter what he says, no matter what he does, even if I am unhappy with his choices, I will always, always love him.

Later, when I checked on him as he slept, I pulled his covers back up over him (he always kicks them off) and bent down to kiss his cheek. My own cheek brushed against his ear, and I was flooded with memories of holding him in the quiet dark when he was a baby - his head on my shoulder, his face in my neck, of kissing his tiny face and feeling his perfect little ears against my cheek, of dancing with him in the middle of the night as he would finally drift back to sleep, of feeling such overwhelming, unending, saturating love. I don't think I'll ever stop feeling that way. Motherhood is like this. Almost unbearable love that sustains you in the moments of stinging pain, memories of sweetness that make up for the awful, sometimes slogging difficulties, snapshots of wonder filed away in your heart to pull out and cling to when your sweet little four year old loses his mind and tells you he no longer loves you. It's worth it, of course. It's all worth it. But wow. What a ride.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Palm Sunday

(Please excuse my blurry phone photos)...

Today is Palm Sunday, so at our wonderful small church, we gathered in the narthex before the service, held sword ferns (easier to find in the Northwest than palm branches) and processed into the sanctuary, singing. My J-bird loved this last year, and he loved it even more this year.
Especially because he kept hearing people say the word "sword". He'd get his hopes all up that he could "sword" people with his branch, only to be told by his spoil-sport Mama that "we don't sword people in church".

He had fun anyway. The kid likes a group activity.

The children had their moment up front with Pastor Jennifer, then they am-scrayed out to Sunday School (and Miss V went to play in the nursery), while the adults stayed for the service.

I got to be one of the Scripture readers, which was an honor. I read the bit about Judas trying to return his blood money and then hanging himself, about Jesus being tried, Pilate washing his hands, the people crying out for the release of Barabbas the murderer and for the execution of Jesus. Cheerful stuff, to be sure. Our awesome choir sang "Lacrimosa" from Mozart's Requiem. Have I ever mentioned how AMAZING it is to hear Mozart in church? Because it's amazing.

Next Sunday is Easter. I really love Easter. And I really love our wonderful, loving church, and how thoughtfully the leadership takes us through the whole Lenten season. I don't blog a lot about religion and faith, because this space is about my family and our silliness together. I also figure you've got your outlook, and I don't seek to push mine on you. I will say, however, that my faith is an integral part of who I am, and I've spent more time in contemplation and reflection here, in this small, "old fashioned" (in that we sing hymns, have a choir and stained glass windows, light candles, bring food to every gathering, etc...)church than I remember for a long time. It's been renewing and awakening and wonderful. It has refreshed my passion, and I'm thankful for it.

And I'm hoping the J-bird's "sword" got lost somewhere between church and home, but I'm pretty sure it's on the floor of my car, making friends with all the stale goldfish crackers and sticky cups of old juice. Awesome. Amen.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Monday, April 11, 2011

What A Weekend It Was

In a truly shocking turn of events, my tiny newborn baby, who was just born a week or so ago turned ONE on Saturday. Seriously - this childhood thing? Blink, and you'll miss it.

A first birthday calls for a party, I say, so I planned a bunny themed fete for my girl.

Invitations went out a few weeks ahead of time.

And then the baking and cleaning and more baking and packaging and planning and organizing (and worrying and - briefly - panicking) began.

My mom bought special candy bar labels with Miss V's name on them, along with a ton of gorgeous decorations. Not to mention all the amazing presents. Can you tell I'm the only one of my siblings who has any children yet? My mama takes Granny duty seriously. ;)

I made three kinds of mini cookies - chocolate chip, oatmeal, and animal crackers cookies cut in flower shapes, vanilla bean cupcakes filled with vanilla whipped cream and topped with pink vanilla bean cream icing, and individual chocolate covered cakes in the shape of bunnies, which gave me FITS (see "panic" above).

I was going to make fruit, veggie and deli trays myself, with homemade rolls, but I ended up buying all that stuff and arranging it on pretty platters, because I reached a level of kitchen time that exceeded what I could stand. And I like being in the kitchen. But enough is enough, yeah?

Carrot shaped party favors.

The preparations were consuming and fun, and I was glad when everything was as ready as it was going to get. On Friday afternoon, the kids and I hopped in the car and drove to the airport to collect my parents and one of my sisters (Tassi, who is 13-going-on-14 and adorable) who are awesome and flew in for half a second to be here for Miss V's big day.

My dad and James very kindly picked up my slack and put together Miss V's big birthday gift...

A little pink play kitchen! She loves it. The J-bird loves it. It is already a beloved toy. We gave her a little tea set and some small pots and pans as well. I had a play kitchen as a little girl that my parents made, and I loved it beyond reason.

The big morning dawned, and my sweet little birdie woke up smiling. She bemusedly enjoyed our "Happy Birthday" singing and surveyed all her new toys. After breakfast, my mom and I assembled the table and slicked up the downstairs to get ready for the par-tay.

The blasted bunny cakes

My failed "milk and cookies" joke. The idea, see, was that babies can't have milk or cookies until they're a year old, see. Apparently, I'm the only adult in my peer group that still drinks milk. These were labeled "whole" and "skim". I kind of wanted to label one "breast", but then I didn't. Perhaps you are getting some idea of my sense of humor. Juvenile. Not all that funny to anyone but me. Fantastic.

I covered Miss V's high chair with some pretty fabric, so the background on the photos of her eating her cupcake wouldn't be the regular ugly cover.

Miss V took a short nap while we got everything ready, then she got up, put on her party clothes and got ready to boogie down!

It was a great time. Our (awesome) friends showed up with their families, the kids ran wild, the food got eaten, and no one said anything mean about my bunny cakes. Well okay...a few of my girlfriends made fun of me a little for getting so worked up, but I had that coming.

The big kids went up to the J-bird's room to trash the joint...I play.

And after everyone had noshed and socialized a little, I thanked them all for coming (breaking down in tears of course. Classic.), and we sang to the birthday girl.

who liked her cake a lot.

and wanted to share.

James liked his, too!

My dad and my daughter.

Miss V received beautiful, thoughtful gifts from everyone. She particularly enjoyed the wrapping paper, bows and cards. All very chewable.

Then, more socializing.

Partied out.

After everyone left, we cleaned up, and the kids took naps. Then, we got revved up again to go out...

to take some grandparent pictures at the park!

I am an extremely amateur photographer, but I love this setting, and I love how the pictures came out.

When the light was just about gone, and we were tuckered out, we hoofed it back to the car and went for some Chinese food for supper.

Miss V got her first taste of egg drop soup.

She liked it.

A lot.

And that's how it went! My family left the next morning for home - always a sad parting. And with the party thrown and the excitement over, I was left to reflect on the last year, the first of my daughter's life. Like most mothers, the milestones are a little bittersweet for me. I love to watch my children grow and change and become the little people who will become the big people they'll eventually be. I also think about the very tiny beings they were, and how those tiny beings are gone, my photos of them the only proof that they were here, that they were mine for a minute. My heart is full of joy and gratitude for who they are - and, once in awhile, a wee bit of longing for who they were. It's a good problem to have, and I try not to let myself be torn in two, but to roll around in this moment, soak it in, and be here for it all. To be grateful for what I get. Because whether I'm paying attention, or not, bitter or grateful, happy or sad, content or jealous, life gets inexorably spent moment by moment, and if I let them be, if I treasure them, then each of those moments is something precious and whole.

They come,

they shine,

...and then they go.

And I want to remember them and know that I didn't just let them all go by unnoticed.

Happy birthday, my precious baby girl.
I love you more than the sun in the sky,
deeper than the sea,
and farther than the birds can fly.